UCL academics collaborate on World Disaster Report
13 December 2007
Dr Maria Kett (Leonard Cheshire Disability Inclusive Development Centre at UCL) and Dr John Twigg (Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre) are lead authors on the chapter on 'Disability and Inclusion' for the IFRC World Disaster Report, which was published today in Geneva.
Launched by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the report examines the issue of discrimination in disasters. It looks at which groups are discriminated against, and why, how discrimination manifests itself and how it increases vulnerability.
Among the groups identified as often discriminated against - often unintentionally - the report lists the elderly, people with disabilities, certain minorities and women - people whose views are seldom sought out or heard. The problem is sometimes exacerbated by the fact that discriminatory attitudes are formed and fostered inside their own communities or families.
The report makes recommendations on how to ensure that the needs of marginalised and vulnerable populations are taken into account in disaster preparedness programmes, that these groups receive timely and adequate assistance during emergencies, and that they are included in recovery activities after a disaster.
It also points to the responsibility of aid agencies and governments to identify and address discriminatory attitudes and procedures. Race, colour, gender, language, religion, politics, opinion, national or social origin, economic condition and birth are just some of the causes of discrimination that can compromise certain groups' access to aid.
This year's World Disasters Report cites the examples of blind, deaf or paralysed people, who may not be able to flee danger on their own. Do evacuation plans take into account that a part of the population may not know how to read because they have been excluded from school? Are the nutritional and medical needs of the elderly and pregnant women taken into account in assistance plans? Do distribution systems ensure all have access to essential food and water? Are vulnerable women protected from sexual and other forms of violence in crisis situations?
Among the solutions proposed to tackle discrimination, the report calls for a clear definition of marginalisation and vulnerability, as well as more information on the impact of discrimination, and on the vital need to involve marginalised and vulnerable groups in the design and implementation of emergency and developmental aid programmes.
To find out more about Dr Kett and Dr Twigg, use the links at the top of the article.